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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stand With Senator Bernie Sanders

First 12 minutes of Sanders' filibuster

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, of Las Cruces.

On Friday, December 10, an authentic American hero, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the longest serving independent in the history of the United States Congress, stood in the well in the Senate and addressed a mostly empty chamber otherwise populated by Democrats and Republicans, and a body made up of women and men who apparently are too self-interested to bother to listen. If Sanders' speech fell on deaf ears, many outside those Senate chambers did hear his call to arms. In fact, Sanders' filibuster grew so popular on Friday that the high volume of web traffic temporarily knocked down the Senate video feed. Sanders quickly rose to the top topic on Twitter, here in the U.S. and internationally.

Furthermore, Sanders' address was a genuine filibuster, not the sorry Harry Reid-era wink-and-nod “filibuster” that passes for political gamesmanship in this age. Sanders fought the bad tax deal in Washington by himself; his nearly nine-hour marathon speech received the support, very briefly, of only two other Senators, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. For those who stopped to watch or listen, on C-SPAN or elsewhere, it was a stirring call to arms, a call to stand up for the values most cherished by the majority of Americans. That Senator Sanders' address, made to what has for all intents and purposes become the American House of Lords, rather than its representative Senate, was effective can’t be denied. The current holder of the bully pulpit, Mr. Obama, found it necessary to call Bill Clinton for back up in response.

Seven hours into Senator Sanders' address, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama appeared in the White House briefing room together (video), pleading for the bad deal and trying to draw the spotlight away from the Senator from Vermont. In an awkward, even bizarre, move about 10 minutes in, Obama exited the briefing room to attend a holiday party, leaving Clinton out there on his own taking questions from the press for another 30 minutes, as if he were still president. For many of us, the joint appearance only underscored the obvious. The leadership of the progressive movement is not in the White House.

Sanders on income inequality: economy's winners and losers

One of the authentic leaders of progressivism that has now emerged is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders served four terms as the independent Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. In 1990 he garnered 56% of the vote against both the Democratic and Republican candidates, and was elected to Congress. When Senator Jim Jeffords retired in 2006, Sanders was elected to fill the Vermont Senate seat. He was opposed by both major parties in each of his electoral victories save one, the Senate campaign of 2006, in which the Vermont Democrats finally joined forces with Bernie Sanders' independent Vermont Progressive Party to elect him.

At the heart of Sanders' speech on Friday was a call to arms for all progressives to stand and fight for middle-class and working-class Americans. On Friday he attacked the wrong-headed deals between so-called leadership in both major parties that would gut Social Security, give more hand-outs to those corporate entities that brought the economy to disaster, further monopoly combinations, and the right-wing attempt to abolish the estate tax. In his speech, Sanders frequently reminded viewers and listeners of the principles progressives have championed since the times of Theodore Roosevelt.

This bad deal is not yet passed into law. We, as progressives, need to remind our Democratic Senators who the voters who make up the base of the Democratic Party in New Mexico are, and demand they begin to show the courage to stand up for what we expect of them. We should all be contacting our Congressional leadership over the next few days to ask them to turn thumbs down on this bad deal in Washington.

To read more posts by Stephen Jones, visit our archive.

C-SPAN has the entire filibuster on video and in a transcript. Daily Kos live blogged the entire speech. Here are a couple more excerpts:

Child poverty in U.S.

Credit card companies

Senators Sherrod Brown, Mary Landrieu

December 11, 2010 at 12:49 PM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Children and Families, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Filibuster, Obama Administration, Poverty, Progressivism, Taxes | Permalink


That thing with Clinton is so embarrassing. Bad enough but then he leaves? Clinton's situation with the economy has no relation to what is going on now.

Posted by: GR | Dec 11, 2010 5:11:22 PM

Apparently the current White House occupant is acting way above his pay grade.

Posted by: Ejército Libertador del Sur | Dec 11, 2010 5:25:14 PM

another factor that is not being discussed enough is the 2% reduction in SS witholdings. From 6% to 4% .... that is for sure going to sink social security.

Posted by: mary ellen | Dec 11, 2010 7:00:15 PM

The jig is up. The Democrats are willing to let one of their effective own filibuster and it proves to be ineffectual.
From now on, we can expect the Republicans to have to filibuster EVERY TIME. Let the Republicans filibuster as the senate Democrats pass through the laws already passed through the House as is. It is time for the majority of the senate to follow Democratic agenda. The idea that filibuster has to stop Democratically made laws has proven to be a myth. Bernie Sanders has ripped off the bandage. From now on the senate can just ignore the possibility of filibuster. Every single time the filibuster is used as an excuse to allow right wing rule, point to this filibuster that did not succeed or even matter.

Posted by: qofdisks | Dec 12, 2010 9:00:18 AM

That is exactly correct Mary Ellen. Obama has set this nation on the road to gutting our most popular,successful and important social insurance. It is plainly a betrayal.

Posted by: qofdisks | Dec 12, 2010 9:04:11 AM

I'm now convinced he's really a conservative/neoliberal, i.e. a corporatist

Posted by: barb | Dec 12, 2010 5:37:54 PM